Funder Dispatch – First Quarter, 2010

A View of Life in the Commons

To help you stay updated on our projects and relevant developments in the world of open science, Science Commons periodically sends out brief email dispatches to its funders and other stakeholders. We hope these dispatches, which will contain news summaries and links, give you more context for the work we’re doing and help foster a deeper understanding of the issues we address.

As always, we invite your feedback and comments. If you’d like to share your thoughts or get more information about anything you read, please feel free to contact us at

What to keep an eye out for in the coming quarter …

In the next quarter expect developments in our patent license work, as we open that process for public comment and further revision. Also look for advances in our work with Sage Bionetworks, and further work with disease research foundations to ensure access to their funded research.

What has been achieved this quarter?

In the past quarter we have worked diligently with our colleagues at Sage Bionetworks and working group members on a number of data-specific issues such as citation, ontologies and vocabularies, and governance. That work is in preparation for a large event in April called the Sage Congress, where we will expose that work to the community for feedback. We have also been working to put together the necessary background documents to prepare for our patent license drafts to enter a public comment period. On the technical side, we continue to execute on funded grants to further enable use of biomedical knowledge through semantic web technologies and collaborations.

Project Updates

Sage conference update

Science continues to actively engage in the planning for the Sage Congress, to be held the 23-24 of April in San Francisco. We are helping to convene an international coalition of stakeholders to establish the framework for a unique public resource – a precompetitive commons for disease biology, populated by more than $150M worth of data and software donated by Merck. Expect lots more information on the Sage work in the next funder dispatch – but for now, the first datasets have already made their way into the public domain via the Sage repository.

Beta Launch of GreenXchange at the World Economic Forum in Davos – first users of Creative Commons patent toolkit

Creative Commons, working with Nike, Yahoo!, Best Buy, Mountain Equipment Co-op, IDEO,, 2degrees, nGenera, and the Outdoor Industry Alliance, announced the beta launch of the GreenXchange in late January at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The GreenXchange is a network-based infrastructure for sustainability innovation and transactions, and uses the new legal tools drafted by Creative Commons for patents. Nike, Yahoo!, and Best Buy contributed patents to the beta, and Salesforce, 2Degrees, and nGenera contributed technical implementations, with the the primary public face of the beta. More than 400 patents populated the beta launch under the Creative Commons toolkit.

The core legal tools in use at the GreenXchange are now being circulated for public opinion, and we expect to announce more users in domains like rare disease, open hardware, free software, and elsewhere over the coming year, as well as the launch of the 1.0 version of the toolkit. The patent tool development lives inside the Science Commons project at Creative Commons, and we welcome any input our funders and their counsels might have to the project going forward.

News & Developments In the Community

Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taskforce Makes Formal Recommendations on Use of Identifiers

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) recently made available on their Web site the result of a working group meeting on persistent identifiers for biodiversity data. Among the task force members is Science’s Jonathan Rees, as well as other representatives from research universities and botanical gardens. The group formally recommends the adoption of persistent identifiers for informatics in this field with active support from GBIF, and goes into explicitly what the requirements are, what’s meant by a “persistent, actionable identifier”, to citation and integration issues. It skirts ongoing debates over technology choices, emphasizing that persistence and actionability are at root social problems, not technical ones.The document is available here:

OBO Foundry Announces its First Set of Ontologies

Biomedical research suffers because it is difficult to use knowledge in aggregate. The OBO Foundry is an initiative to create a group of biological and biomedical ontologies that covers a wide range of life science phenomena in a modular fashion. By building and promoting a  well designed and scientifically credible set of vocabularies for describing the results of research, we move closer to the goal of making it easy to contribute to, and enable discovery based on the growing body of open scientific research data.

The coordinating editors, including Science’s own Alan Ruttenberg, recently announced that six ontologies have met their review requirements — the first set of ontologies to successfully meet all of the conditions laid out. These ontologies include Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (CHEBI), Gene Ontology (GO), Phenotypic Quality Ontology (PATO), the Protein Ontology (PRO), Xenopus Anatomy Ontology (XAO), and the Zebrafish Anatomy Ontology (ZFA). These ontologies are now preferred targets for community convergence.

Full details are at

MichiganView releases remote sensing data under CC0 waiver

Starting Jan 28, 2010, MichiganView is making available all of its more than 93 Gigabytes of Landsat 5 and 7, and NAIP imagery data in the public domain using the new CC0 Waiver provided by Creative Commons. The MichiganView consortium ( makes available aerial photography and satellite imagery of Michigan to the public for free over the Web. As part of the AmericaView consortium, MichiganView supports access and use of these imagery collections through education, workforce development, and research. CC0 (pronounced CC-Zero) waives any rights in a dataset, ensuring that all of the dataset is available to anyone without encumbrance of any kind.

More information on CC0 can be found at the FAQ ( Further questions about MichiganView may be directed to Dr. Tyler Erickson, Director, MichiganView at and questions about the CC0 waiver may be directed to Puneet Kishor, Science Commons Fellow (Geospatial Data) at

Science Commons, on the road and on the Web

Data Sharing on the Web

The February issue of Talis’ Nodalities magazine focuses on data sharing and includes an article by Science Commons’ own Kaitlin Thaney.

Last October, Kaitlin joined Jordan Hatcher, Leigh Dodds and Tom Heath to give a four hour tutorial titled “Legal and Social Frameworks for Sharing Data on the Web” at the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC). The tutorial covered the legal and social issues commonly found in data publishing, using the Linked Data Cloud as a leading example of how copyright restrictions, complex licenses and lack of clarity can quickly exacerbate problems for data sharing efforts. The article can be found in its entirety here:

SC Holds Symposium on the Future of Science

This February, we convened the first ever Science Commons Symposium – a daylong event held at Microsoft Research’s campus in the Seattle area. The topic of the day was “The Future of Science”, and featured presentations from some of the leading minds from the Open Access and Data Sharing world. Joining the bill was Stephen Friend (Sage Bionetworks), Jean-Claude Bradley (Drexel, Open Notebook Science pioneer), Cameron Neylon (STFC), Peter Murray-Rust (Blue Obelisk), Antony Williams (ChemSpider), Heather Joseph (SPARC), Peter Binfield (Public Library of Science) and our own John Wilbanks. More information on the event can be found here . Video is also now online, in case you missed the event.

eResearch2020 launch in Brussels

VP for Science John Wilbanks delivered a keynote address in late February at the European Commission Directorate General Information Society and Media. The occasion was the launch of a major new survey of online scientific communities, known as “eResearch2020  The Role of e-Infrastructures in the Creation of Global Virtual Research Communities.”  The main goal of the study was to understand better the organizational, collaborative and technological developments in e-Infrastructures which are effective in supporting virtual research organizations in different fields. See